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Legal How-To: Writing an Online Takedown Notice

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

If something you created somehow shows up on someone else's website, you may want to know how to send an Internet takedown notice.

As you may know, the Internet may appear to be a free-for-all where many users simply steal another person's work. However, there are laws that protect your copyrighted work on the Internet, as well as personal material like pictures of you on vacation.

Basically, you can notify infringing users of their unlawful use of your material and send them a takedown notice. Users who fail to remove infringing materials could face legal liability.

What's the Problem?

While sending an Internet takedown notice may sound appealing, you may have no idea how to write one, or even whom to send it to.

Generally, you can find some sort of address for the infringing user (email or otherwise) by looking at the "Terms of Use" or "Terms of Service" on the website that contains the infringement. A copyright agent may be listed, or contact information for the website's administrator may be given.

You can also search other parts of the website for identification and contact information. The user may also have a "Contact" page or an "About Me" page that can provide additional information.

What Should a Takedown Notice Include?

The gist of a takedown notice is that you want to let the user know that you own the copyrighted work and that they are in violation of your rights. A notice should generally describe:

  • An identification or description of the copyrighted work;
  • Your claim to the work;
  • How the infringer's use of the work is not authorized;
  • How your takedown notice conforms to the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA");
  • That the user should remove the infringing material as quickly as possible;
  • That failure to comply may lead to legal action; and
  • Your contact information, should the recipient have any questions.

Need More Help?

Writing and sending an Internet takedown notice can be the first step in litigation, so you'll want to be very careful in how you word your takedown notice.

If the infringement is particularly serious, or if you believe a lawsuit is inevitable, you may want to consult an experienced attorney. A lawyer can draft a takedown notice on your behalf and can help you pursue further action if necessary.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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